Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Assessment Tool for NURSING STUDENT Computer Competencies

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Assessment Tool for NURSING STUDENT Computer Competencies

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Computer skills have been established as important for nursing students and for graduate nurses. No current research was found on the best method to evaluate the skills of incoming nursing students. The purpose of this descriptive, correlational study was to compare student ratings of their computer competency to their performance of those skills on a computer-graded assessment. A convenience sample of 87 nursing students was used. There was a low, but significant correlation between the scores on the survey and the assessment The results suggest that students rate themselves higher on their skills than their actual performance of computer skills. Implications for educators are presented, and the value of using a computer-graded assessment is discussed.

Key Words Computer Competency - Nursing Education Information Systems - Computer Skills - Informatics

DESPITE THE WIDESPREAD ASSUMPTION THAT THE EXPANSION OF TECHNOLOGY IN K- 1 2 EDUCATION HAS LED TO COMPUTER LITERACY IN GRADUATES, RECENT FINDINGS INDICATE THAT STUDENTS' COMPUTER COMPETENCIES MAY BE LOWER THAN ANTICIPATED.

This situation has resulted in frustration for both instructors and students (Maag, 2006; Tarnow & Mayo-Rejai, 2005). * Computer skills are widely recognized as essential for success in nursing education and professional practice (McNeil et al., 2003). In addition, technology skills for nurses have been recognized as necessary for the improvement of patient outcomes in the clinical setting and as essential in the lifelong learning process (Atack, 2003). As college instructors across the country increase their use of technology in their teaching (Jeffries, 2005), computers are revolutionizing how higher education programs are designed, delivered, and evaluated. The purpose of this article is to report a comparison of how nursing students self-rate their computer skills and their ability to perform those skills.

Literature Review Studies completed in the 1990s indi- cated that nursing students achieved low scores on fundamental computer skills (Gassert & McDowell, 1995; Hardy, 1995). Since that time, standards for information technology have been endorsed by the American Association of Higher Education and the Council of Independent Colleges (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000). In addition, information technology has been recognized as essential for undergraduate nursing stu- dents by numerous organizations (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 1997; Cronenwett, 2006; Pew Health Professions Commission, 1998). Therefore, it is assumed that competency with computers is an essential tool, not only as a separate discipline within nursing (informatics), but as essential for all practicing nurses.

The demand for computer skills is also seen in clinical practice as clinical facilities increasingly require students to use computers for charting and patient assessment. Once in the workplace, new graduates may be faced with unfamiliar assistive devices for bedside care and systems utilizing elaborate database models (Elfrink, 2001).

A search of the Internet indicated that many states now require high school graduates to have basic computer skills in preparation for college and life skills. Therefore, it is often assumed that students have requisite basic computer skills when entering college courses. However, students enter college with a wide variety of computer skills and may not be able to perform the tasks specific to higher education (Sinclair & Gardner, 1999). Lack of computer skills has been linked to delayed learning and an increase in frustration for students in college classes (Atack, 2003).

There appears to be a lack of consen- sus regarding what constitutes basic computer skills. Typically, basic skills include basic computer operation, word processing skills, limited spreadsheet and database experiences, and Internet skills including the ability to use email (Saranto & Leino-Kilpi, 1997). …

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